Photo by Nolan Huelsman
Padres Opening Day at Petco Park
Yes, the Padres got a beatdown and lost, 15-0, to the Dodgers in their home opener. But it could be slightly worse. It could already be Chargers season.
Woe unto the San Diego pro sports fan. The local standard for success among our athletic heroes too often is mediocrity. The Friars’ all-time won-lost record is 3,417-3,947-2 (through Opening Day), a winning percentage of .464. The Bolts’ 432-437-11 record, and winning percentage of .490, make them slightly better losers. Forget not that San Diego has never won a Super Bowl (but lost one) and the Padres have never won a World Series (losing two).
Side by side in the front offices, the amiable bat blunders by the local boys of summer seem less offensive than the narcissistic apathy fans get from the gridiron gurus wearing Kryptonitelined jockstraps. You be the judge:
Padres: San Diego played in the gee-whiz Pacific Coast League before being called up to the bigs in 1968.
Chargers: Hotel magnate Barron Hilton founded them in 1959. The American Football League-affiliated team played one (winning) season in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but moved to San Diego because they had a tough time competing for fans with the National Football League’s Rams.
THE LAIR Padres: In 1998 the team loaded up on talent and made it to the World Series (before getting swept by the New York Yankees). A ballot proposition that year to build Petco Park passed overwhelmingly, thanks in large part to the team’s on-field success and an offthe-field public wooing and baby-kissing campaign led by former team president Larry Lucchino.
Chargers: After third- and fourth-place finishes the last two years, the team openly courted a move to Los Angeles, but failed to get backing from the NFL to build a stadium in Carson. Chargers frontman Mark Fabiani was relieved from his duty of belittling and denigrating San Diego, and now new spokesperson Fred Maas is pitching an East Village hybrid stadium-convention space plan that politicians are treating like a new Nickelback release and convention officials say won’t aid efforts to attract business. While bad vibes simmer, the team holds the back-pocket option to move to L.A. in the next couple years…to share a stadium with the Rams.
SERVING THE PUBLIC
Padres: The team regularly updates the concession fare (hello, Gaglione Brothers, Brigantine and Board & Brew), re-jiggers the seating around the outfield and enhances the lights and the PA system. And give-away nights abound: Get jerseys, hats, hoodies and all manner of free schwag all season.
Chargers: The Chargers are reaching out to raise the hotel tax by 4 percent so they can redirect a public subsidy to build themselves that new lair.
HOMAGE TO HEROES PAST
Padres: After retiring from the Padres, demi-god Tony Gwynn opted to coach his alma mater, San Diego State University, until his cancer-related death in 2014. Mr. Padre stayed connected to the pro team—he did TV color commentary and is memorialized by a larger-than-life statue at Petco Park. Revered closer Trevor Hoffman works in the team’s front office. Cy Young-award-winning pitcher Randy Jones does radio and TV for the team and has a BBQ franchise at the ballpark.
Chargers: The heart and soul of the team during the ’90s, 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau was traded away in 2003, then went on to play seven more years in the NFL. Seau committed suicide in 2012. LaDanian Tomlinson became the face of the Bolts, then the six-time Pro Bowler was released in 2010 and played two more years with New York Jets. LT does local commercials for ASI Heating, Air and Solar, and as an ASI “White Glove Guy” he has parodied the Chargers’ threat to leave town. Eric Weddle was drafted in 2007 and the three-time Pro Bowler and hard-working defensive specialist became a fan favorite. Last year, Weddle was fined for staying on the field during halftime to watch his daughter perform. Earlier this year, the Baltimore Ravens signed Weddle to a four-year contract. Ka-pow.